Few questions from a typophile newbie about fonts for email

AnonJD's picture


I'm completely new to the world of typography (until this weekend I didn't know the difference between serif fonts and sans serif fonts), and after thinking about the fact that fonts can make a drastic influence on how someone perceives you based on the font you use in your email or site. Also, English is not my first language, so I apologize for any mistakes in my writing (especially spelling and grammar).

I was wondering you if you guys could help me with something that I have been thinking about all day today. I did do a Google search and read many articles, but no article really answered my question.

We all know that Times New Roman size 12 is the preferred font for letters, resumes and any serious communication (if I'm wrong about this I apologize).

I was wondering what the equivalent font, and more importantly font size, would be for emails. I mainly use email to communicate with friends and family, but will have to start using it for communicating with professors and sending out my resume. I'm looking for a font that is easily readable and still looks professional. So far, it seems like verdana, helvetica and helvetica neue are probably the right way to go. But, I'm more curious to know what size would be best. (I know some computers and smartphones will display the text differently.)

I'd appreciate any assistance at all.

One last question: Avenir is a font that I found that, in my opinion, looks amazing. Would this be an okay font to use for email?

Thank you all in advance for your help, I truly appreciate it.

jasonc's picture

your email font is only going to appear as you see it if the user has the font on their system, of course. So Verdana, Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman are safe choices.
Avenir is of course safe on Macs, but I'm not sure what packages on Windows install it. So Windows users would probably see your email in Arial. Or more likely, whatever they've set their default to.

Si_Daniels's picture

When did Avenir become a Mac system font?

HVB's picture

If the recipient has HTML turned off, it doesn't matter what YOU use. They'll see their own default font and size. Herb

jasonc's picture

Oh, Simon's got a good point. Avenir's only safe on macs if you assume everyone's up to date, which is obviously a bad assumption.

Si_Daniels's picture

Thanks for the pointer. I knew it was the iOS6 font for maps, didn't know when it was added to Mac OS.

JamesM's picture

About 33% of Macs are currently using 10.8, so the majority are still running older versions.

Chris Hunt's picture

i don't tend to use helvetica in body copy, "because Helvetica looks like dogshit in text" -- to quote paul rand.

for size, 16px plus is best. 16px is the default in most web browsers. sometimes you'd want to set the font size smaller or larger, depending on the situation. but as a heuristic it's solid, imo.

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